Christmas Light Laws: Silly or Necessary?
Hanging up your Christmas lights is a fun and classic way to spread some holiday cheer and build a sense of community with your neighbors and friends. But sadly, it isn’t always that simple. In some parts of the country, there are Christmas light laws that dictate how you can hang your Christmas lights or how long you can keep them up. While most of these laws aren’t overbearing, they are something to take into account when you get ready for the holidays this year.
In this blog, we’re taking a look at some Christmas light laws to keep you better informed before you plan your Christmas lights display this year. We also look at some other unusual and strange holiday laws that show just how unpredictable Christmas can be.
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Unusual Laws in the United States
Strange and unusual laws aren’t just reserved for Christmas lights. A quick Google search will show you a long and interesting history of some of our more unexpected laws—some of which are still technically in play.
Here are just a few unusual laws in this country:
- If you enter a frog in a frog-jumping contest in California, and your frog suffers the misfortune of dying during the contest, you can't eat the frog. It's the law.
- In Mississippi, if you bang your thumb with a hammer and let slip a foul word, you'd better be alone. Because if 2 or more people hear you swear, it could land you in jail for 30 days. It's the law.
- If you're a bingo fan in North Carolina, you'd better keep an eye on the clock as well as on your bingo card. That's because playing bingo for more than 5 hours at a stretch is prohibited. It's the law.
Legislators sometimes make silly laws. It's happened throughout the history of America. And it's not just a thing of the past, as the above examples show. Whether or not they are actively enforced, all of those laws, and many other strange laws are currently on the books. Have you looked into some of the strange laws in your state?
What About Christmas Light Laws? Are They Silly?
Many states and municipalities have enacted Christmas lights laws. There are laws regulating the kinds of lights you can use, and where, how, and when you can use them. Are those laws silly? Or are they prudent and necessary? In many cases, these laws tend to be much like beauty: it's in the eye of the beholder.
In San Diego, for example, you'd better have your lights sets down by February 2 or you may face a fine. Many people might consider that a prudent and proper law, preventing the displaying of Christmas lights out of season—a relatively harmless act that seems to infuriate some people beyond all reason. Some argue that by staying lit with your LED Christmas lights for months diminishes the special quality of Christmas lights in December. But others happen to like the look of Christmas lights and prefer to enjoy them all year long.
Who's right and who's wrong? Is San Diego's law silly or is it essential? It just depends upon who you ask.
Know Your Local Christmas Light Laws
Most likely the laws in your area are not unreasonably restrictive. That's not necessarily always going to be the case, of course. In Guilford, Connecticut, for example, only white Christmas lights are to be displayed on the exterior of your home or office. Massachusetts once even outlawed Christmas altogether - though that was several centuries ago (thankfully, Christmas has made quite the comeback in the Bay State).
More often than not, Christmas light laws are based on local ordinances—not county or state laws. Generally, these laws are enacted by local homeowners associations (HOAs). These laws work to maintain a level of consistency throughout the neighborhood, keeping neighbors happy and avoiding potential conflicts. If you have a local HOA, it’s smart to reach out to them before installing your Christmas lights.
But whether you agree with them or not, it's a good idea to know about any local laws that might relate to your commercial grade Christmas lights display. After all, the law is the law, and no one wants to spend the holiday season with a fine on their hands.
Other Strange and Unusual Christmas Laws
Dictating when and what color of Christmas lights you can hang aren’t the only unusual Christmas laws in place. In fact, if you look throughout history, there are quite a few Christmas-related laws that simply leave us scratching our heads.
Here are some of the strangest and most unusual laws related to our favorite holiday:
- No candy canes: in Nebraska in 2018, an elementary school principal banned all candy canes due to their religious connotation (the red and the white colors hold allusions to Jesus).
- A sober Christmas day: in the state of Arkansas, it’s illegal to purchase any type of alcoholic beverage. While you can still pour a little alcohol in your eggnog in the privacy of your own home, you’ll just need to make sure you stock up on your alcohol before the 25th of December.
- Christmas tree receipts: in Michigan, it’s illegal to transport a freshly cut Christmas tree without proof of purchase. This law is in place, most likely, to cut down on illegal tree harvesting. So, if you’re in Michigan, either opt for an artificial tree with LED lights or hold onto that receipt.
- Speaking of artificial Christmas trees: if you’re in New York City, an artificial Christmas tree may be your safest option. The city has banned the use of natural Christmas trees for displays in retail stores and other public spaces, most likely to reduce the risk of potential fire hazards.
Do You Have Any Strange Christmas Light Laws In Your Town?
Let us know if you have any hilarious, whimsical or odd laws about Christmas displays in your city! No matter what you want to do with your Christmas lights, don't take things too seriously... it's all about fun and joy, after all. We're here to help you create an eye-catching (and legal) holiday display this year with LED lights that can illuminate even the biggest properties. Contact us today to learn more about our products or if you have any questions about installing your Christmas decorations. Feel free to call us at (855) 464 6665 or check out our YouTube channel for more ways to create an unforgettable holiday display.